City sink Leopards to retain PSL status

Polokwane City kept their Absa Premiership status in tact with a hard fought 2-1 win over Black Leopards in the final Premier Soccer League promotion/relegation encounter at Giyani Stadium on Sunday.

Two early strikes from Sipho Jembula and Vukile Mngqibisa proved to be enough on the day as Rise and Shine extended their stay in the Premiership at the expense of their Limpopo rivals.

Leonard Ntshangase pulled one back late on for the hosts, but City held on to remain in the top flight.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable encounter which saw Leopards trouble the woodwork on no fewer than four occasions.

The home side were still without top scorer David Zulu while attacking duo Puleng Tlolane and Thabo Rakhale started on the bench for Rise in Shine as Boebie Solomons named a conservative looking starting XI.

Leopards who had to win to secure their place in the Absa Premiership next season got off to the worst possible start as Sipho Jembula nodded in with only two minutes on the clock to send the three thousand odd travelling supporters into delirium.

The hosts looked rattled and Jembula almost completed his brace in the 13th minute following some neat interplay between himself and Jabulani Maluleke, but he was denied by Jacob Mokhasi who made a brilliant save.

Mokhasi though could do nothing to deny Mngqibisa from the penalty spot in the 26th minute.

Jembula who with Maluleke bossed the midfield in the opening half-an-hour was chopped down inside the area by Kenneth Owusu, Mngqibisa duly stepped up and blasted the ball into the back of the net.

A sense of urgency crept into the Leopards attack as they now needed three unanswered goals to book their place in South Africa's top flight next season.

Modiri Marumo first denied Abubakar Mumuni from point-blank range before Owusu saw his header canon off the bar.

Leopards finished the half off the stronger of the two sides, but City looked to have secured their top flight status as the two sides entered the tunnel at the halfway mark.

Lidoda Duvha signaled their intent with Bafana Sibeko's curling shot going just wide five minutes into the second stanza.

Lady luck though seemed to be eluding the hosts as Sibeko's free-kick attempt rattled the crossbar on the hour-mark before the same player saw his powerful effort from range somehow evade the back of the net after clipping the underside of the bar.

Leopards head coach Kostadin Papic was reduced to his knees as this time Mumuni rattled the up-right in the 75th minute from a sweetly struck free-kick.

The hosts finally found their goal as Leonard Ntshangase hit a crisp half-volley past a helpless Marumo in the 79th minute.

City suffered a further blow as Sandile Sibande received his marching orders in the 84th minute following a second bookable offence, but City held on despite the player deficit to remain in South Africa's top flight.

Black Leopards (0) 1 (Ntshangase 79')
Polokwane City (2) 2 (Jembula 2' Mngqibisa 27')

Leopards: Mokhasi (Visser 31'); Munyai, Owusu, Munganga, Mabotja, Manaka (Sibeko 43'), Mumuni, Ntshangase, Maphangule, Ndou, Matlakala (Mkize 63')

Polokwane: Marumo; Molekwane, Mngqibisa, Tshilo, Tema (Mthimkhulu 69'), Jembula (Rakhale 57'), Sibande, Motsiane, Moyana, Nzimande (Tlolane 58'), Maluleke